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Squash - It's not just for compost anymore! Curry Ginger Butternut Squash Soup Recipe.

Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger and Honey recipe at bottom of page...

As I wander through this world, some would say aimlessly, I am always looking to find another soup recipe for my culinary arsenal or any recipe for that matter. I was in a restaurant in Chicago a few years ago and on the menu as the Chef's featured entrée it simply stated Butternut Squash Soup on the insert. Now I have to tell you I hate squash or at least I thought I did and I passed on the soup special and looked deeper in the menu for something else that did not contain squash to eat.

Once the waiter came to take our order I offered up my request and as the waiter talked he went on to brag about the soup and how I was passing up an opportunity to taste a bit of Nirvana and I should at least try a small sample to confirm that I hate squash. So I gamely acquiesced to his polite suggestion, well okay it was more of a pretentious demand but I was trying to be kind here, and I asked him to bring it on.

I must state here and now that I hated squash with a passion unless it was a pumpkin squash and made into spiced pumpkin pie or tarts, other than that squash was a compost filler for me. Eggplant and other items that are shaped like squash or squash-like in texture or appearance are things I despised with a hateful passion normally reserved for liver or other awful offal.

A few moments later the waiter brought the sample of the squash soup to the table and set it before me. The other diners looked on at me as I gulped and grabbed the soup spoon to lift the first taste to my mouth and I am sure they were fully expecting to see some sort of gustatory upheaval emanating from my quivering swallower but I soldiered on and tasted the first spoonful. It was wonderful. Sublime even. I finished it very quickly and then I asked for another bowl, a full size bowl at which point the waiter tells me that my reaction is not uncommon and he then brought a bowlful to the table for me to enjoy.

I dissected that bowl of soup one spoonful at a time trying to determine what the sensual pleasure was comprised of. I tasted a hint of nutmeg. A very slight but enjoyable hint if ginger. It was creamy and unlike many cream based soups it was not thick and gluey with a flour thickener. It had a background flavour that I could not quite figure out until the waiter offered that there was a special chef's blend of curry in it along with the dollop of crème fraiche artfully knifed into the soup to form a palm tree kind of thingy floating on a sea of bright yellow goodness.

I finished the second bowl and thanked the waiter for forcing the soup onto me and I vowed to recreate it at home and therein lay a quest that took a while to complete but complete it I did. The waiter offered me good luck in my quest and no I could not get the recipe from the Chef.

It is in my cookbook and I offer it to you tonight since I made a pot of it and it now rests in the fridge to get better for dinner tomorrow... Don't turn your nose up at it! Don't be boorish! Give it a try and enjoy. Hell even my youngest kids love it and it is squash. Amazing...

Butternut Squash Soup

6 cups chicken stock
4-5 cups spaghetti squash or butternut squash (1 large squash)
1/2 cup heavy cream or more if you like it really creamy and don’t care about the artery clogging fat that it adds. Go ahead! Walk on the wild side!!!!
1 medium potato peeled and diced
1 medium onion minced
4 cloves garlic crushed and chopped fine
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp butter
2 tsp dried ginger powder
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp of crème fraiche if you're so inclined, but with the heavy cream included already it would be superfluous I figger, but it would add a bit of pretension if that is what you're going for, I don't use it in this recipe.

Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove innards and seeds. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper on the halves, cover with foil to seal and place in 400 degree oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Once cooked squash has cooled remove from rind and set aside.

In large pot melt butter then place onion, garlic and ginger and sauté for 5 minutes or until translucent

Add chicken stock, potatoes, and squash to sautéed onion mixture and bring to a boil. Once to a boil lower heat to simmer and simmer for 1/2 hour.

Once all vegetables are cooked remove from heat add cream and puree mixture with a stick (submersible) blender to a smooth velvety consistence, ensuring no lumps remain. The secret here and I have to thank a nameless author on the internet for it, is the potato. It thickens the soup and adds some heft to it, is not gluey and no miserable flour/dumpling lumps endanger the effort either. Wonderful...

After mixture is pureed return to low heat and begin to add curry, honey, nutmeg, turmeric and 1/2 tsp salt to the soup. Be careful to only add a small portion of the total spices and honey at a time to ensure you arrive at the taste you desire, and don’t end up over-sweetening it or putting too strong a flavour into the broth. If you want more or less, go for it.

What you are after is a subtle flavour, a hint of exotic spice, a tantalizing background taste that adds to the taste of the soup and not killing it with kindness. You can add more of one or the other to your liking. Hey, there are no rules here so go with whatever you like and damn the recipe. Spices are an individual preference, no two people are alike and since you are cooking it, flavour it to your liking and if someone does not like it, fuggem, they can go to KFC.

Enjoy. This is wonderful stuff and as a note, I really don’t like squash, but this is fantastic.

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